By Leonardo Boff
This fact has been studied and followed by one of our best economists, a graduate professor at PUC-SP with extensive international experience: Ladislau Dowbor. Two studies of his authorship summarize the vast literature on the subject: “The global corporate power network” of 04.01.2012 (http://www.dowbor.org/) and the most recent of September 2016: “Corporate governance: the chaotic power of the financial giants ”.
It is difficult to condense the accumulation of information that seems terrifying. Dowbor synthesizes:
“The really existing world power is largely in the hands of giants that no one chose, and over whom there is less and less control. They are trillions of dollars in the hands of private groups whose field of action is the planet, while global regulatory capacities are on all fours. Recent research shows that 147 groups control 40% of the global corporate system, with 75% of them being banks. Each of the 29 financial giants generates an average of 1.8 trillion dollars, more than the GDP of Brazil, the eighth world economic power. Power has now radically shifted ”(cf. Corporate Governance, op. Cit).
In addition to the specific literature, Dowbor refers to data from two large institutions that systematically over the years dealt with the mechanisms of corporate giants: the Swiss Federal Institute for Technological Research (it rivals the famous MIT in the US). ) and Credit Suisse, the bank that runs the world's great fortunes and therefore knows about these things.
The data presented by these sources is surprising: the richest 1% control more than half of the world's wealth. 62 families have a wealth equal to that of the poorest half of the Earth's population. 16 groups control almost all trade in raw materials (cereals, minerals, energy, land and water). Because all food obeys the laws of the market, its prices rise and fall at the mercy of speculation, depriving vast poor populations of the right to have access to sufficient and healthy food.
The 29 planetary giants, of which 75% are banks, starting with Bank of America and ending with Deutsche Bank, are considered "systemically important", since their eventual bankruptcy (let's not forget that the largest, the Lehamn Brothers of North America, declared bankruptcy) would bring the entire system to the abyss or very close, with dire consequences for all humanity. The most serious thing is that there is no regulation for their operation, nor can there be, because the regulations are always national and they act on a planetary basis. There is still no world governance that takes care not only of finances but also of the social and ecological destiny of life and of the Earth-system itself.
Our concepts evaporate when, Dowbor reminds us, it is read on the cover of The Economist that the turnover of the BlackRock company is 14 trillion dollars, while the GDP of the United States is 15 trillion dollars and the of poor Brazil barely reaches 1.6 trillion dollars. These planetary giants manage around 50 trillion dollars, the equivalent of the total public debt of the planet.
The important thing is to know their purpose and their logic: they are simply looking for unlimited profits. A food company buys a mine without any experience in the industry, just because it makes a profit. There is no humanitarian sense, such as taking a small portion of the proceeds for a fund against hunger or to decrease infant mortality. For them, that is the job of the state and not for shareholders who only want profits and more profits.
For these reasons we understand the sacred anger of Pope Francis against a system that only wants to accumulate at the cost of the poverty of the great majority and the degradation of nature. An economy, he says, "that is centered on the god of money and not on the person: this is the fundamental terrorism against all humanity" (on the plane back from Poland in September). In his ecological encyclical he calls it an anti-life and suicidal system (No. 55).
This system is homicidal, biocidal, ecocidal and geocidal. How can such inhumanity thrive on the face of the Earth and still say there is no alternative? Life is sacred. And when she is systematically attacked, the day will come when she can retaliate by destroying whoever wants to destroy her. This system is seeking its own tragic end. May the human species survive.